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Monthly Archives: September 2010

I had my eye on ewe…

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Evening!  Hope you’ve had a good day.  I got off to a little bit of a better start today…and I think some extra sleep has something to do with it.  I didn’t wake up until a minute before my alarm went off.  I’ve been tossing and turning a lot lately, waking up at all hours of the night.

Let’s rewind:

Yesterday I was DETERMINED that I was going to the gym.  I just knew it.  It was on.  Me and the gym, mano y BodyPump class.  Then I realized that they were doing construction on several of my normal routes to get to the north side, where the Y is.  I finally got over there and couldn’t find a place to park.  I was running out of time, and class had already started.  Exasperated, and ticked that I’d not changed clothes before leaving, I decided to just go for a walk around Railroad Park.  As I went to change into my tennis shoes, I realized that I’d forgotten my socks.

That’s when the headache started.

In the end, I went home and made myself what I thought to be a comforting meal, with some of my favorites that I had on hand.

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The rest of the 15-bean soup my mom sent with me last weekend topped with a little parm, steamed broccoli and a little shredded cheese, and a slice of peanut butter toast with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.  I had myself a little lie-down on the sofa and will my head to stop hurting.  The worst part?  I still have a little congestion from the cold I got last week, and every time I would cough, my head would just throb.

Luckily, my headache subsided by the time I finished up with work, because it was date night with Jen and Jermaine!  Before meeting the boys at California Pizza Kitchen, I met up with Jen at the mall to do some shopping.  She found some great cardigans and a killer dress, and I found this sign that suits her to a T:

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Scope that dress she has on!  Love it.  The belt accentuates her tiny waist.  Homegirl has lost FIFTY POUNDS!  Give her a hand!

While we were browsing for hair accessories at Forever 21, I found this sweater that I knew I had to have:

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This little ewe spoke to me when I walked by:  “Baaaaaaaa me!”  she cried.  I had to baaaa it.  (Using my recently acquired gift card!)  The price just couldn’t be bleat!  (Ok, enough sheep analogies…it’s shear madness 🙂

At CPK, Jonathan and I decided to start with a Mediterranean platter (not pictured) that consisted of pita, Greek “salad” (Kalamata olives, cucumber, tomato and onion) and Tuscan white bean hummus.  It was nice and light.  I started with a glass of Yellow Tail Shiraz.

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And Jonathan had a Sammy Octoberfest.  For our dinner, we split the Four Seasons pizza.

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It was a thin crust topped with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, salami, mushrooms, onions  and Mozzarella cheeses.

Jen and Jermaine had cheese and tomato, and pepperoni pizzas, respectively.

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Aren’t they adorable?!

We skipped the dessert menu and headed to Yogurt Lab for some froyo (and sorbet).  I had mango and blueberry sorbet, with fruity pebbles, almond slivers, pineapple and raspberries.

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It was tart and delicious.

Now I’m off to have dinner with a dear friend and possibly go watch Jonathan play kickball.  Cause nothing says I love you like watching your boyfriend and his friends go (kick)balls to the wall.

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heart vs. soles

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Howdy!  Tonight I ran with Jen and Craig over at the new Railroad Park area in downtown.  It is so lovely!  I can’t believe we have something like this in Birmingham.  There were a lot of people out and about, enjoying this fantastic weather—it’s been in the upper 70s-lower 80s here.  The run started out ok…until it went downhill. 

It was bad.

My legs felt like lead.  I had shin splints and muscle pain, and I wanted to cry.  It was like stabbing, knife pain.  I’m really not sure what my problem was.  We walked—a lot.  I felt bad, but I just knew that I couldn’t make it or I’d been in serious pain for the rest of the night.  I’m not exactly sure what caused it, but I have two very different theories:  my feet and my heart.

I say my feet because I wore these heels all weekend I wasn’t used to, and I did a lot of standing and dancing (at the wedding).  My feet and legs were pretty sore.  And as for my heart…I think my heart just wasn’t in it.  I mean, I wanted to run, to feel active and enjoy the cool breeze on my skin, but I think I just wasn’t all there.  (I’m in a bit of a muddy funk; I’ll be posting about this later.)

Anyway…we finished about three miles in around 45 minutes.  At least I did the distance and got out and moved, right?  Right??

I’m pretending that you said yes. 

I did have something to ease my pain:  the promise of dinner and tonight’s Britney-themed episode of Glee!  Loved it.  And John Stamos….yum.  Equally as tasty was my dinner:

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I had some steamed broccoli and parm/cheddar cheese, along with a piece of pan-seared salmon that I coated with a few splashes of reduced-sodium soy sauce, honey and garlic.  (The black sludgy looking stuff was actually YUM glaze leftover in the pan.)  Also on the side….Rachel’s beer bread.  (I made another loaf last night.  Sorry I’m not sorry.)

We spent a better part of the evening chatting with my neighbors outside; I love getting to know people!

Have you ever had those runs/exercise sessions where you just aren’t feeling it, no matter what you do?

gettin’ me all warm inside

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Last week, Rachel posted a recipe for something that combines two of my greatest loves:  beer and bread.  The only thing I love more than ripping into a deliciously carby loaf of bread and feeling the goodness sticking to my teeth is opening my mouth wide to feel the carbonated carbaliciousness (that’s a word now, didn’t you hear?) slide down my throat.  Mmmm…

Wait, what were we talking about?

Oh yes, beer bread.

I saw this recipe one of the first times she posted it…maybe Christmas, I think?  And I’ve been meaning to whip it out ever since.  I’d been craving some warm soup lately, especially since I had all these lentils to play around with, so I decided to see what I could come up with.  (Rachel’s post features a broccoli and cheddar soup that I’m sure is fabulous, but I don’t really do Velveeta.)

For the soup, I decided make a sort of stew with roasted carrots (what little I had left) and sweet potatoes.  For my bread, I had a lone bottle of Harpoon Octoberfest sleeping in my fridge that I decided to put to good use.

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First up, I chopped up my sweet potatoes and carrots, knowing they’d take longer.  (Preheated the oven to about 400 or so.)  I sprayed down a sheet covered with aluminum foil, then gave the veggies a spritz after spreading them out, and then sprinkled on some rosemary and s&p and popped them into the oven.

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I chopped up about 3 short celery sticks and a quarter of a white onion.

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On the stove, in a large dutch oven, I melted some Smart Balance.  Probably about a tablespoon.  Once it began to heat up, I sauteed  the chopped onion and celery and garlic, along with some coriander and cumin  (about 1/2 tsp each) and a dash of cayenne pepper.

When they were sufficiently cooked through, I added about 2 cups of broth and 3 cups of water.  I threw a few other spices into the mix, including some sage.  Once that got up to a boil, I added approximately 8 ounces of lentils, turning the heat down slightly and leaving the pot lid cracked.  Soon it was time to remove the veggies, and I turned the oven down slightly to get it ready for the bread.

The bread is as simple as it gets:  flour, beer, sugar, baking powder, salt.  I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and one cup of bread flour, and I also used kosher salt.  Step one:  Mix it all together.

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And that’s it.  Well, you have to bake it, but let’s not get too far ahead.  (Check the link for Rachel’s exact recipe.)

I used two smaller loaf pans because I knew I would eat the hound out of the stuff.  I lined one with foil (the method I now recommend) and spray each down with my Misto.  I divided the dough in half for each of the loaf pans and baked for about 40 minutes.

When there was about ten minutes left on the bread, I added the roasted vegetables to the pot.  After taking the bread out, let in cool 10 minutes in the pan and 10 out.

This. Was. Epic.

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The bread was just salty enough and moist from the beer.  The flavor was perfection, and it completed the heart lentil stew/soup really well.

What’s your favorite hearty soup or stew?  This was good, but I’m a little partial to chili and real tomato soup.  My new soup venture will be carrot soup.  I had some from Urban Standard that was ah-maze-ing, and I want to attempt to recreate it.

dress stress

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This year was pretty slow when it comes to weddings.  I’ve been to just one so far, that I remember, but I have one tonight and two more in the next few months.  On top of that, my bff from kindergarten, Fayla, just got engaged and asked me to be her maid of honor.  (She’ll be getting married some time next year, though.)  I’m pretty sure there will be a few more weddings before the year is out.  Fun Fact:  I have been in NINE weddings.  I’m slowly working my way up to my own feature film.  It’d be fun to make a blog post with pictures from all the weddings I’ve been in…I’ll have to work on that.

Anyway, tonight.  All my dresses are black or black-ish, and everyone kept saying, “Black?  To a wedding?”  Well, I’ve done it before, but when Jonathan told me he’d brought a brown suit to wear, I started to stress a little.  I know it’s not necessarily important that we match, but…we like to.  Not to mention, I was already a little unsure of what dress I’d wear anyway.  I decided to hit the road and do a little shopping.

Everywhere I went, I came up short.  All the dressy stuff is black!  I tried Kohl’s, Old Navy…and finally Target.  There was a big selection, but I just couldn’t find anything I liked.  Then, something creeped out from one of the clearance racks.

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It was just what I wanted!  Something I could pair with black or brown.  I decided to breeze through the shoe section, and I found these:

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Also on sale!  They had just the right amount of heel, and they’ll look nice with Jonathan’s suit.

While shopping, I stopped to grab some snackage.

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Yay for new Larabars!  This one is yummmmmy.  I think it ties with chocolate chip cookie dough for one of my new favorites.

Do you stress over what to wear to weddings?  Ie, do you attempt to match your date?  What’s your opinion on wearing black?

beer run

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After my poor showing at the 5k last week, I’m determined to make up for it at October 9’s Race for the Cure.  I mean, I guess it wasn’t necessarily a poor showing, but I really want to do well at RFTC—my very first 5k last year.  I want so badly to get under 35 minutes.  It’s just that it’s so hot outside and I haven’t—wait, scratch that.  No more excuses.  I don’t need to make any more excuses.  I need to suck it up and run.

On Thursday, I took a step in the right direction.  Actually, several.  Craig and I decided to run Highland, which is a street in my neighborhood.  We figured we could do a little over 3 miles, possibly walk when we needed to.

Did I mention we had a few ulterior motives?

We’re looking for a very specific beer.  And right now, it only comes in a mix pack.  The beer:  Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

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Have you had this?  It’s so delicious.  It’s perfectly spiced, just perfect.  (I can’t wait to make Rache’l’s beer bread with it.)  We’re desperate for it to come in a six-packs, but for now, we’re making do.

Anyway. I digress.  Here’s the route we ran on Thursday:

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Yeah…see all those water stops?  One of them was a Chevron station, the other a Western Supermarket, and the last, a Piggly Wiggly.  And we stopped at each one…to check out their beer selection.  In our defense, we also got water at the first stop.  And at the second stop, we found something wonderful (more in a sec), and the third held the coveted mix pack we were looking for.

In the end, we did a little over 3.5 miles.  It was tough, I’m not going to lie.  I was tired, it was hot, and the sweat started to sting my eyes.  But I’m glad I did it.  (Side note:  I’m a little nervous to run by myself in our neighborhood right now.  A woman was attacked, and they are still on the lookout for the man that did it.  I feel much better with Craig at my side, but that means no impromptu, right-out-the-door runs for right now.)

But back to the wonderful luck:  While Craig and I were taking a breather at the Western Supermarket, we came across a large display of beer.  I noticed a sign, and I tapped Craig on the shoulder to make sure it was right.  “6-pack bottles,” it said, “$4.99.”  What beer was it, you ask?  Coors Light?  Natty?  Nope.

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It was Great Divide.  I LOVE most every GD beer I’ve had.  (Haha….GD beer.)  I picked up these two, but they also had the Hoss.  I may have to go back.  Yeah, I know I can only drink so much at once, but you can’t even find mediocre beer this cheap, really.  It’s like I don’t want to waste the opportunity.

I’d say it was a pretty productive run.

Do you plan your run around water stops?  I never even thought about stopping in at the Chevron to get water, as many times as I have run the area.  I think that’s because it was always winter time, and now that it’s hot, I’ll lap water out of a ditch to get hydrated.  Luckily, I had different form of hydration waiting on me when I got back.  (Note:  We went back and picked up these beers; we did not attempt to run home while juggling six packs.)

going down…downtown.

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This week, Birmingham held it’s very first Restaurant Week!  The event lasts for nine days, ending this Saturday.  There were so many places I wanted to hit up, but time got away from me, and before I knew it, the week was full.  I managed to steal Jonathan away for a lunch date downtown at a new place I’d been dying to try since I saw Jason’s mention of it on his blog (and the Bham mag blog, Good Taste):  brick&tin.

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There are three different price levels for BRW:  $10.10, $20.10,  and $30.10.  brick&tin had a menu option in the lowest pricing tier, and it included a sandwich, a side, a (non-alcoholic beverage) and a cookie.

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I went with the provence panini, with roasted farmer’s market vegetables, pesto, extra virgin olive oil and goat cheese.  For my side I had the butternut squash soup, and my cookie was a shortbread sandwich with muscadine jam.

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Jonathan chose the new orleans, with salami, capicola, mortadella, provolone and olives.  (It was basically an attempt at a muffuletta, but as I’ve said before—nothing can compare to Central Grocery in NOLA.)  On the side, he had a cup of tomato soup and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.

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Atmosphere:  I really, really liked this place, inside and out.  I love going to eat in downtown Birmingham because it makes me feel like I’m in a “real” city, and brick&tin did not disappoint.

The exterior was very cool, and the inside was just lovely, with exposed brick and a lunch counter/bar.

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Even the bathroom was fancy!

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Food:  My sandwich was delicious, but it fell apart when I tried to eat it.  The cheese was creamy and tart, and the pesto was nutty and sweet.  The veggies were cooked perfectly.  The squash still had a bit of a bite, and the other mysterious veggie (eggplant?) had a great flavor, even if it was slightly mushy.  The soup was FANTASTIC!   Creamy, smooth, sweet…perfect.  I enjoyed my cookie later at my desk.  The jam was sticky and sweet, but the cookie part was just okay.  Not bad, just not standout awesome.

Jonathan gave the sandwich a resounding “mmmm.”  While it was no muffuletta, it was still tasty.  The tomato soup was nice and tart.  I didn’t get to taste his cookie, but he also gave it two crumb-coated two thumbs up.

Something else I loved about this place:  They use local ingredients!

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There’s even a source guide available.  Very cool, brick&tin.  Very cool.

Does your town have a restaurant week?  What sort of places do you normally hit up?

what the friday? weekend plans & beetle juice

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I can’t believe it’s already Friday!  There were a million things I wanted to do this week and weekend, like stuff my face during the 1st-ever Birmingham Restaurant Week, cram even more food in my mouth at the Greek Food Festival and take in some flicks at Sidewalk.

I was able to visit two places for Restaurant Week (more on that later), which ends tomorrow.  I’ll miss Sidewalk because I have to be out of town for a wedding tomorrow  (and will also be gone Sunday), but I’m hoping to snag some treats at the Greek Food Festival either tonight or tomorrow afternoon.  We went last year, and on top of the rain, it was a huge cluster-eff.  I’m hoping to outsmart my last-year self by going early and just retrieving my food and taking it home using a clever carpool system.

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival has been going on since 1999, and it’s been recognized by the likes of the Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine.  How it works:  A diverse array of movies is shown at various venues around downtown, including documentaries and short films.  You can purchase a weekend pass or individual tickets.  My first year in the city, we went to see The Ten (which included a cameo from my steamy 60s crush Don Draper…or rather, Jon Hamm), which I loved.  (Fun Fact:  Board president for Sidewalk is Birmingham native Alan Hunter, one of MTV’s original veejays.

One of the films playing at SidewalkThe Human Centipede.  Have you heard about this?  I, for one, am surprised they’re showing it, but I know a lot of people that are interested.  I know folks that have seen it, and some say that’s not so much a good movie and that it relies on shock value a lot.  You can check it out on IMDB to see the basic premise…it sounds ridic.

Some interesting stories from the week…

A massive recall was made on containers of Similac baby formula, made by Abbott.  The reason?  Some affected batches may contain the presence of a small beetle or its larvae.  You can go here to find out if you have any of the beetle juice powder.  Apparently there are no immediate health risks, but it can make your baby sick.  And oh yeah, there are BEETLES IN IT.

I saw this interesting story while watching the Today show earlier this week:  A pregnant woman was diagnosed with an incurable and aggressive cancerous tumor on her pelvis.  To save her life, they virtually cut her in half and put her back together again.  It was about two years ago, and now she walks with a prosthetic and is cancer free.  You really need to see the video on the Today site where they show just how they did things—incredible.

Other strange bits gathered from USAtoday.com:  a burial at sea gone terribly awry (who knew that these were legal for anyone other than goldfish?), a DUI game-changer and a Venezuelan politician who knows how to attract the ladies.

Any fun weekend plans?  Also…after you check out the link for The Human Centipede, I have to know:  Would you see it?

Additionally, this can’t be for real.  (Barbie would never have stormed into Ken’s dream house unannounced, let alone the White House.)